MAKE THE RESERVATION, THEN MAKE THE PLANS AT THESE HARD-TO-SECURE SPOTS

Everyone has that restaurant that they always want to go to, but when it comes time to suggest it to the group, everyone just goes, “Ugh. No way. Too hard.” You don’t always think to make a reservation in advance when it comes to a casual Friday night dinner or late night snack, so let us present you with a fun, sort of genius alternative: instead of making a reservation at a specific spot on a specific night, make a few standing reservations at your favorite restaurants around town and just hope that the plans follow. If it’s the day before and you realize that you can’t make it, fine — you can always call (within 24 hours, of course) and cancel, or if you’re feeling especially generous, give your reso away to a friend.

If this type of New York-style, rolling reservation dining sounds appealing to you, here are a few of our favorite restaurant ideas for where to start.

Tako. It’s small, it’s loud, and it’s always packed — especially if you want a coveted outdoor sidewalk table. The hosts often won’t even put you on the list if you don’t have a reservation, and if you think you can try your luck at a bar stool, well, good luck. We’d suggest making a weekend evening reservation at Tako at least a week in advance, and if the day rolls around and you’re starving after a long work week, you’ll be gratefully rewarded with decadent chorizo fundido, fresh ceviche and creative taco combinations.

Umami. Our favorite Lawrenceville hideaway is, unfortunately, also everyone else’s favorite Lawrenceville hideaway. It’s definitely a power move to reserve a table here before the weekend crowds climb those second-story stairs and attempt to fill what’s left of the Japanese izakaya’s few tables and open bar seating. Insider tip: make a late night reso for an evening when you know you’ll be craving something better than pizza at 1 a.m.

Morcilla. Now that Cure is closed (*tears*), we suspect that it will be even harder to snag a table at Morcilla — unless you have a pre-planned reservation, that is. Friends coming into town in a few weeks? Looking to score some points with your significant other by planning date night in advance? Make a reservation and start dreaming about that famous charcuterie.

Dish. One of Pittsburgh’s all-time favorite eateries elicited jumps for joy all over the city when it re-opened this April, but that just means it’s harder than ever to secure a table. The dinner menu of fresh, seasonal Italian fare changes daily, so you’re bound to be in for an incredibly delicious surprise no matter when you make your reservation.